Google+ Comments for WordPress: A Commenting Revolution or Nothing Special?

Google+

If you’re a blogger then you probably love comments.

When you’re just starting out, each and every comment you get is cherished. And while that special feeling fades over time, I still love getting comments. I still like to see each post on my blog get 30+ comments. A single figures comment count looks awful to me. Comments mean engagement and interaction — in a way they define blogging.

Don’t get me wrong — I don’t consider comments to be the fulcrum to successful blogging. But it is an important part, symbolic or otherwise. And that’s why your comments system is so important. The platform that people use to submit comments on your site is something that most bloggers have deliberated over (perhaps more than once) in their time. With the multitude of options out there, it can get rather overwhelming.

And just to add to that confusion, we now have Google+ Comments. It looks sleek and sexy and it integrates beautifully with WordPress. So is it set to make a major difference to commenting on WordPress, or is it just another option that will fall by the wayside?

A Short History of Comment Systems

I’ve spent a fair amount of time deliberating over comments systems during my time as a blogger.

At one point I actually switched to Livefyre on my blog, only to switch back a few weeks later having discovered that I much preferred the default comments system. I still run the defaults comments system, albeit with the very snazzy Jetpack Comments module:

Jetpack Comments

It allows visitors to login via Facebook, Twitter and WordPress.com, as well as giving them the option to subscribe to comments and/or new posts.

The likes of Livefyre and Disqus offer extra features such as bespoke spam protection and social media integration, but there’s a whole other breed of comments system out there too. For a long time Facebook Comments has stood alone as the fully social media integrated comments system, but with the introduction of Google+ Comments that has now changed.

Google+ Comments

Google first announced in April that it would be integrating Google+ Comments into its Blogger platform. Without wanting to put too fine a point on it, my first thoughts were, “Holy crap that looks beautiful.”

Google+ Comments

It’s what you’d expect from Google to be honest, but the integration is seamless and (in my opinion) very sexy.

There’s functionality under those curves too though. It’s extremely easy to share your comments on Google+ as a whole as well as with individual people and Circles. In a perfect world, if everyone who visits your blog uses and loves Google+, it’s a dream solution.

The Google+ Plugin

It was only a matter of days before a bright spark (Brandon Holtsclaw, to be precise) developed a plugin to utilize the new commenting system.

He’s managed to retain the same style from the official version while seamlessly integrating the default system as well as any other systems you may have installed:

Google+ Comments for WordPress

It’s been done in a very slick fashion and Brandon is to be congratulated for his efforts, regardless of how well-adopted (or otherwise) the system becomes.

However, the most pertinent question remains — is Google+ Comments a good option for WordPress users?

The Problems with Comments in WordPress

When I was considering switching to Facebook comments a few months ago (in the hope that it would boost referrals from Facebook to my blog), the overwhelming response I got from people was that they wouldn’t comment.

Why? Because a lot of people don’t want to use their social media account for commenting. They don’t necessarily want their comments being published on their Facebook page. Even though Facebook Comments includes an option to not publish your comment elsewhere, many people simply aren’t willing to hand over their social information so readily.

The result of this is that the number of comments will go down if you implement a social media commenting system. The potential upsides are that you may get more referring traffic from the social media network in question and you may get far less spam. Those are two pretty good upsides, but ultimately not enough to encourage me into change.

Ultimately, the default WordPress comments system is so popular for one reason: it is simple and unobtrusive. You don’t have to give any information that you don’t want to (with exception to your email address, but people are used to that) and you can post a comment without having to go through a tiresome login process. It just works.

I believe that the problem people will face with integrating Google+ Comments is twofold:

  1. Many people don’t have (or don’t actively use) Google+.
  2. Many people will be unwilling to share via a social media network.

If every Internet user in the world were an avid Google+ user and there were no qualms about privacy and the distribution of comments, I would say that this is a very intriguing option indeed. But Google+ is no Facebook, and I won’t even use Facebook.

What Do You Think?

I’d love to get your thoughts on the new Google+ Comments system and on blog commenting in general. Is it that important, and if so, which system do you use and why? Let us know in the (you guessed it) comments section below!

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51 Comments

  1. NaveenKumar says:

    People prefer Facebook comments over G+, I feel so.

  2. Rajesh says:

    Just started using Google+ comments system, it's really nice. People can comment easily.

  3. I was expecting to find G+ comments here when reading the post in Feedly.

  4. Phillip Kent says:

    Great article. This is exactly what i needed to read. Although I feel like Google Plus will become much more popular over the next few years. I see Google Integrating YouTube and Google plus to create one super entity. More than a Billion unique users on YouTube being combined with 300 million or so on G+(Minus a few hundred million overlap) will create an environment where people will be more willing to use G+ comments. Not to mention systematically being desensitized to social media integration put it in a situation to be keeping an eye on for the future.

    Killing a huge portion of spam sounds awesome to me. I dont know about your blog but I have received over 100 spam comments in the last few weeks.

    The SEO benefits are pretty intense as well. Those plus ones, shares, and backlinks, are highly correlated to pagerank just under authority.

    Exciting times we live in to say the least.

  5. We have gone over to google+ comments on our insurance blog but haven't had any takers yet to leave a comment.

  6. Is there a way to manage Google Plus comments?

  7. wsspoelstra@gmail.com says:

    One other reason I like to use the standard WordPress comments is that I can modify the HTML for the right markup (article elements).

  8. Sanket says:

    Nice Post buddy and I am planning to use Facebook, Google + and WordPress Commenting Systems so I wanted to ask that will it increase my site loading time if I will use all these 3 commenting systems ?
    Regards,
    Sanket Rathod

  9. Akhil says:

    Excellent plugin. I'm using 3 options for commenting: WordPress, Facebook & Google +

  10. amway says:

    How can I manage that google plus comments on my site?

  11. Good points but I think the most adeguate comments-tool really depends on the market you are covering, Facebook could be a great boost for comments but in some markets and not in others, same for G+, Disqus&Co.
    The huge advanage of G+ comments is that it aggregates all comments from all people who shared the article and I love this.

  12. This pluginj is a really great this for seo, for trafic, for social and all this kind of tips Google linkes. Thank you for sharing. I will install it on my blog.

  13. Vicky says:

    Did they stop supporting twitter integration? I have it on my blog but the settings don't allow me to add twitter to the widget.

  14. Vicky says:

    Did they stop supporting twitter integration. I have it on my blog but the settings don't allow me to add twitter to the widget.

  15. I'm guessing that there will be some pretty significant SEO benefits to being in Google's system. Searches for my main keyword result in several results from my very sparse and unremarkable Google+ page showing up much higher than other websites which have much richer content.

  16. Mark says:

    Hi Tom…good post here and thank you. I don't know that I'd use G+ comments as yet. Never used FB, tried Livefyre and ended up going with Disqus. Mainly because of spam control. But I can say my comment volume dropped too after adding that. I'd love to go back to wordpress comments, but hate dealing with the spam. What are you using to keep this manageable while use wordpress comments?

    • Tom Ewer says:

      Hey Mark,

      No problem :-)

      I use Akismet — it works fine for me. It does spam the occasional valid comment but I just see that as an unfortunate side effect.

      Cheers,

      Tom

  17. Bang Digital says:

    Just installed it on an existing site – going to give it a good month or so – as the site is fairly popular with comments.

    I'm going to take advantage of the ability to change the tab order and see the effect on commenting when the WordPress or Facebook systems are on the first tab.

  18. Tommy Landry says:

    I've been actively evaluating the Google+ plugins as a potential addition to my own website. I see the pluses and minuses as well, but also am considering author and publisher authority. Wouldn't it provide Google with additional information that they want and need to best assign authority for both parties, the site and the writer? I'd expect it would.

  19. Tash Hughes says:

    I use the WordPress standard comments with Jetpack and Commentluv – it all works and is simple for me to adminster and visitors to comment through.

    I wouldn't change to anything else without being sure it was easy to use and would work in my blog – thus reading a review such as yours:)

    Your point about people disliking giving social media details out is valid – I hesitate about it myself and am pretty sure many of my audience wouldn't like it.

    However, I agree with Christopher above – if I have comemnts on my blog, I want them on my blog to be in my possession.

  20. Enstine Muki says:

    Hi Tom,
    I have been thinking since the release of the new Google+ comment plugin for WordPress and I'm still thinking.

    See, you just hit the main reason the Facebook comment system became so unpopular – people (including me) don't want to share any comment on their profiles.

    Now with its SEO goodies, Google+ comment system is tempting. Whatever the case, I still stick to the default system plus commentLuv. Let's see what tomorrow holds ;)

  21. Tim Bonner says:

    Hi Tom

    I was tempted to add Google+ comments alongside the default WordPress comments system. I'm not keen on the idea of having both though.

    I'm also a keen to keep CommentLuv so I couldn't do without the default system.

    You make some great points Tom and I agree with you. I think many of the people who regularly comment on my blog would be turned off by having the Google+ commenting system in place.

  22. The Google comment system could be great for SEO benefits… Google Author Rank Algorithm?

  23. I think it's nothing to write home about. To me, the idea of allowing a 3rd party to hold my comments in their database is against why I choose a self hosted blogging platform in the first place.

    Great write up and I appreciate the in depth look into this option.

  24. i think, i should use it.. or someday perhaps there is other plugin that let us easily comment with all networking site

  25. Mahesh says:

    I don't think Google plus comments will allow more visitors to engage in any site. Definitely many are unwilling to share their profiles in other websites for commenting.

  26. Chris Haught says:

    Great points about the Social Media aspect. And as far as commenting in general, I know that I have not posted a comment many times just because I didn't want to "connect your account"!
    Thanks

    • Tom Ewer says:

      Yep — I think this is a common concern and one reason I don't use the likes of Livefyre or Disqus.

    • I have not posted many time because I didn't want to "connect your account"…also I may have wanted to zip off a comment to a clod that I did not want my real name used (//snicker\\).

      Anyway, I am getting over all that now. Transparency on the web is honored. I think that I might stay with the native WordPress comments system on my wordpress and on my Blogger stay with the google plus. I think I will run an experiment for some months and see. I use disqus to argue with people on topics I love to hate! haha

  27. SimonWebDesign says:

    Keep it simple stupid!

  28. Renato says:

    amazing, I just installed on my blog and everything is working perfectly. Shame that is not integrated into WordPress comments by default.

  29. Good post Tom,

    I'm still hacked off at Google for their (not provided) BS.

    That's why I'm resisting switching my comments to G+.

    However I would consider adding multiple comment systems at the same time like some bloggers have standard comments and facebook comments.

    Maybe that's too much?

    Would it be weird to see a blog with 3 ways to comment? FB, G+, and WP?

  30. FERNANDO says:

    Great piece of advice and nicely given the opinion for the reader. I haven't used the Google+ comments system yet on my FERNANDOBIZ, as I happy with the functions Disqus offer.

    However after reading your article I think I maybe start using the Google+ comments system to see how it works and what experience I could see.

    Do you think using the Google+ would give anyone a huge seo advantage with optimization for the page?

    Thanks for the share Tom.

  31. ipj.robson@gmail.com says:

    While I like the idea of using social media comments in practice I'm not a fan.

    I know some people choose to use both facebook and regular commenting systems. At least in that situation you would be covering all your basis right?

    Also, Ana I half expected the same thing.

    If it increased your Authority rank in Google's eyes it would spread like wildfire I suspect.

  32. asaf.cohen.g@gmail.com says:

    Nothing special…

  33. Richard says:

    Nice article. I do disagree with Facebook comments not being effective, however. A friend/client of mine's blog gets 10x more comments on her fb page than on her blog with the same post, with the automatic publishing engaged. And it's only the excerpt on fb. I doubt people even read the whole post with the link to the blog in the excerpt.

    I sometimes wonder if it might be just a matter of having links to the discussion boards on social networks underneath the post and getting rid of the comments box altogether. Just keep the posts on the main site as source.

    That way people can just comment on their favorite social network and it automatically gives your site more followers.

  34. Ana Hoffman says:

    I was expecting to find G+ comments here when reading the post in Feedly. :)

    As most of us, I always want to know "what's in it for me" when commenting on any blog.

    Will I get backlinks? Will I get social media exposure? Will my comment show up in my/other bloggers G+ stream? Will the G+ blog comments get indexed by G? (as far as I know, right now they use iframe, which of course is not indexed by Google).

    I am tempted to test it at Traffic Generation Café though.

    • Paul says:

      Hi just like to add something to Ana's comment, although iframe comments aren't indexed by Google, when you post a comment using G+ comments you can share your comment on G+.

      When you share your comment it will appear as a new "post". Google index public G+ posts, so I think that would mean when you post a comment it should be indexed on Google.

      So the better your comments are…more people will find your G+ profile.

    • FERNANDO says:

      Great question Ana, I do have the same questions with Google+ and it's use. Any helpful answers would be appreciated. Thanks

  35. scott@webdirexion.com says:

    Hi Tom — thanks for another great article. After reading, I did a search for google+ comment plugins for WordPress, and it turns out there are three now. Google+ Comments, Google+ Comments Widget, and the one you write about, Google+ Comments for WordPress. They all had pretty high marks but your recommendation has more reviews and about five times more downloads.

    So… I like it! I don't see the same downsides you do, and wrote about that in a G+ comment on Brandon's blog which of course now appears in my G+ stream here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/100156945788473956154/posts/cYvTv2zTMM5